Dawn of the Dead is without argument one of the top Zombie Films of all time, it was the movie that started my interest in Zombie Films and Zombies in general. It was written and Directed by Zombie Master George Romero and released in 1978. Dawn of the Dead was the second Zombie Movie in George Romero’s Living DEAD series taking place after the events of Night of the Living dead. As with all the Living Dead Films predecessors share no common characters or settings.
Dawn of the Dead was filmed over 4 months in 1977 and 1978 in the Pennsylvania cities of Pittsburgh and Monroeville.The majority of the film takes place in the 180+ store Monroeville Mall. Being a gore filled Zombie movie int he 70′s nobody expected the enormous success the film would have in the box office with a estimate gross of 55million US, keep in mind the budget for the film was 650K.
Dawn of the Dead’s plot is a significant critique towards American mass consumerism and social decadence in the late 1970. There are many scenes where characters are engaged in unbridled elation as they loot the stores merchandise even when surrounded by a multitude of UNDEAD HORRORS. Another key difference in Dawn of the Dead than other movies of that era is the role played by minorities. George Romero was very much ahead of his time in how he equalized the role of race, this is common in films today however not as common in the 70′s, 80′s and early 90′s. The relationship between Roger and Peter played by Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger was scripted perfectly.
A Zombie Film wouldn’t be complete if it wasn’t for GORE lots of GORE, Director of special effects Tom Savini delivered that in spades. Tom also had a short cameo roll as a marauding biker with a wicked scene of him using a machete on a zombies head before he succumbed to the ZOMBIE HORDE.
Dawn of the Dead begins in a television news studio in Philadelphia. The entire studio is gone to shit people are panicking trying to make sense of all the reports of a disease outbreak. Two reporters Stephen and Francine (played by David Emge and Gaylen Ross) are discusing escaping using the news stations traffic helicopter. The film cuts to a swat team raiding a apartment building. In an attempt to stop the Zombie outbreak the governemnt has passed martial law forceing the people to hand over all dead bodies to government agents for proper disposal. The apartment being made up of religious immigrates defies the order. A battle ensuses bewteen the apartment dwellers, the law enforcing swat team and hordes of brain starved Zombies. Two swat members (Roger and Pete) meet up in the basement where they find a room filled with all the corpses wrapped up in white sheets. The corpses are a writhing mass of undead gore. They are visited by a leg less priest who tells them that they are strong now but in time “they” (the zombeis) will be stronger.. he gives them his prayer and leaves. The roger and peter decide to desert their post and meet up with rogers reportor friend who has a chopper.
The movie follows the 4 survivors as they escape the Zombie infested city for the desolate woods of Canada. Running low on fuel and needing a place to sleep they seek refuge at a large shopping mall. They soon realize how perfect the mall is to hole up in until the National Guard restores order. They begin purging the Mall interior of Zombies and “dragon wall” the enterences with Large Semi trucks and makeshift walls. Lucky for them there is a fully stocks gun store ont he mall.. (us canadians would be shit out of luck the closest thing we have is Zeller’s BB guns) There is sporadic news broadcasts with “experts” discussing what needs to be done, One suggests they find an alternative food source for the shambling hordes another thinks nuking the major population centres is best (this plan is explored in the novel Day by Day Armageddon with little success). The survivors finally have contact with other people unfortunately for them its a marauding band of bikers, “A trained well equiped army”. The bikers invade the mall stealing anything they can get their hands on and letting the horde of Zombies in. This leaves the 4 survivors a bit screwed… Some of the original 4 survive but not for long.
Seriously go watch this movie its the foundation of all things ZOMBIE